Liam Lawrence has called on his battered Pompey team-mates to stand up to the bullies.
The Pompey skipper issued a timely rallying cry to the troops who were undone by a late sucker-punch in Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat to Birmingham City at St Andrew’s.
It was somehow poignant amid Pompey’s ongoing financial crisis that they should be handed another painful boot in the nether regions when Nathan Redmond blasted home a cracking strike just four minutes from the end of what nearly turned into a gutsy away point.
But while it would be so easy for the Blues to curl up and wait for it all to be over, Lawrence knows he and the rest of the squad must stand shoulder to shoulder and face up to a situation that would account for those of a lesser character.
In essence, Pompey have to do what Pompey do best – fight back and land a few telling blows themselves.
Lawrence said: ‘We keep getting kicked. We keep getting bullied.
‘It’s like we keep getting picked on by the school bully every week but we have to get on with it and stand up to it.
‘Since I’ve come here, I’ve learned to dust myself down every time something else goes wrong – especially being captain.
‘But it’s got to change for us sooner or later. Something’s got to be done – enough is enough now.’
During Pompey’s previous brush with financial oblivion, then manager Avram Grant tapped into the mentality of the club and its supporters with his defiant – if sometimes erratic – style of leadership.
Current boss Michael Appleton is a different character entirely but has already won the respect of supporters by facing up to the crisis with his straight talking and honesty – seemingly increasingly rare commodities around Fratton Park in recent times.
For Appleton there is no shirking of tough questions, passing of the buck or reaching for ready-made excuses. All of which, he would be perfectly entitled to do, let’s not forget.
But Lawrence remains an influential figure in the dressing room – especially with the recent influx of younger players who Appleton has been forced to call upon.
Lawrence said: ‘I think it has to come down to senior lads and myself as captain.
‘It’s up to the older boys in the squad to pick up the new lads and the lads who have not played so many games in the league.
‘We’re trying. There is a good togetherness still, no matter what’s going on.
‘Everyone is together. The coaches are brilliant and the gaffer is fantastic, so fingers crossed we will be alright.
‘I’ve got to be seen to be picking the lads up, playing well and we’re trying.’
But the former Stoke midfielder also has sympathy for the club’s long-suffering fans who are once again being put through the mill and fear for their club’s future.
Having turned in another vocal and defiant display for the trip to St Andrew’s on a freezing night, the travelling supporters even burst into a rendition of ‘Let’s all have a disco’ at one stage.
Lawrence said: ‘Everyone involved is getting frustrated and I think the supporters are as well – but they were brilliant again for us at Birmingham.
‘They’ve seen their club go from greatness to how it is now and it’s not good enough. It needs sorting out.’